It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. –C.S. Lewis
This past Friday, we dropped off our first born at college four hours away. I’ve been excited for him ever since we first toured the campus, seeing before him a bright future filled with so much opportunity. We shopped for dorm items, we attended all the events related to the upcoming school year—he even declared (tentatively) a major. But a few weeks back, my body betrayed me. Not my whole body, no, not that. My sly little heart. Because while my head knows that this is a normal and natural part of growing up, my heart wants to hold on to that little boy that snuggled deep inside of it and protect and nurture him forever.
Did I mention my heart is nocturnal?
In the nights just before his scheduled move, I would close my eyes and instead of falling asleep, would see a movie-quality montage of the last 18 years of my (his) life. Those sleepless but joyful nights of babyhood, him in his little soccer uniform at the first game. The time he peed on the tree in our front yard in front of God and everyone, because he was “watering it”. Climbing the steep steps of the school bus when he started kindergarten. When he learned to ride a bike without training wheels because our friend’s daughter could do it, and he didn’t want to be outdone. His hockey games. Then football games. His obsession with golf. Playing Rock Band with his sisters. Driving in his first car. Buying his first suit. Little clips of time swirling behind those closed eyes that couldn’t hold back those pesky tears.
I’ve never been on this side of life before. The letting go part. Sure, you are letting them go a little bit every single day of their life with those milestone moments—as well as the sneakier every day ones that creep in. For eighteen years he’s lived under our roof, leaving a trail of empty glasses and Pop Tart wrappers in his wake. We’ve ensured he had food in his belly and a roof over his head, went to school, kept decent hours, grew his faith and knew our unconditional love. It’s such a strange sensation, this mixture of pride because we’ve raised a young man ready to start his life as a young adult, with the realization that since we’ve done a pretty good job at that, our part is well, kind of finished. And it makes me feel nostalgic and yes, a whole lot of sad.
I am smiling through those tears this morning. Because I am proud of our son. And I know that he is going down a path towards being his most awesome self. It’s all just starting for him—this future so full of promise and opportunity. It’s exciting! My head tells me a new normal will settle in over our home, a normal where our adult child is now also a part of our inner circle of friends. While it is true that it’s the end of an era, it’s also the beginning of a new one.
And my heart likes the sound of that.